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4 Exciting Things About the Dandenong Ranges, Melbourne, Australia

Are you planning a visit to Melbourne, Australia? If so, have you heard of the Dandenong Ranges, a set of low mountain ranges situated 35km east of Melbourne?

By way of answering these questions, let’s look at the range’s geography, history, and 2 other unique things about the Dandenong Ranges.

4 Exciting Things About the Dandenong Ranges, Melbourne, Australia
By Andrew Amos – Self-photographed, CC BY-SA 3.0

4 Facts About the Dandenong Ranges

1. A brief geography of the Dandenong Ranges

As described above, these mountain ranges are located just east of Melbourne, Australia, with the tallest mountain, Mount Dandenong rising to 633 metres. The Dandenong Ranges mainly consist of low rolling hills and steeply weathered valleys covered with thick temperate rainforest, predominantly made up of tall Mountain Ash trees and dense ferny undergrowth.

The Ranges fall within a cool, climate region with daily average temperatures of 26.6°C in Summer, 20.4°C in Autumn or Fall, 14°C in Winter, and 19°C in Spring. It is unusual to see snow in the Ranges. Although, one or two snowfalls can fall once or twice a year at the higher ranges and during the coldest months of the year when frigid air moves across the southwestern parts of the state of Victoria.

There is no doubt that, based on this geographic description alone, the Dandenong Ranges is a beautiful area to visit and live in. Therefore, as an aside, should you wish to relocate to this area, consider looking at the land for sale Officer in Hillstowe.

2. The Dandenong Ranges: A history

The original custodians of this region are the Wurundjeri People, forming part of the world’s oldest living culture. Their rich cultural heritage and spiritual connection to the land are recognized today by the oversight body, the Yarra Ranges Tourism board.  

The Ranges’ origin has been traced back to more than 300 million years ago when a great volcano welled up as a reservoir in the earth’s crust. Four series of lava flows ran out from this cauldron, spreading out, cooling into rock to form the Dandenong Ranges. Lastly, it took centuries of weathering for these rocks to break down, creating the rich soil of the forested ranges.

The first European settlement occurred in this region during the 1850s. This area was primarily used as a timber source for Melbourne and a region that was extensively hunted for game. As a result, three townships, Mt. Dandenong, Sassafras, and Olinda, were initially settled with woodcutters, loggers, and hunters as the original inhabitants.

The Dandenong Ranges became a popular holiday destination for workers living in Melbourne as early as the 1900s. They stayed in the many guesthouses and resorts located on the Ranges’ hillsides.

Timber harvesting continued until the 1960s in some areas. The loggers created numerous forestry tracks and clearings for sawmills and timber tramways that are now used for recreational activities such as walking, picnicking, and taking in the stunning scenery and wildlife.

Other areas in the Dandenong Ranges were developed into land for horticultural production with the rich volcanic soil and reliable rainfall, giving rise to multiple orchards, flower farms, berry farms, and herb farms.

An example of this region’s horticultural successes includes setting up a jam factory in 1909 by Daniel Camm, a local pioneer settler and successful berry farmer. He sold his jam in Melbourne when the price was high. During World War II, he was granted a contract with the British Ministry of Food to manufacture and supply jams to Britain, resulting in the famous brand, Monbulk Jams, gracing British household tables for years.

3. Gumbaya World, Melbourne’s largest theme park

Gumbaya World is located less than 50 minutes South East of the Melbourne CBD, in the town Tynong in the Dandenong Ranges. This park is divided up into four different regions or worlds: 

  • Oasis Springs: A water park, including 8 epic water slides, a 300-metre lazy river, heated rock pools, and a family wave pool known as Surf’s Up. Should you wish to spend a couple of days 
  • Oz Adventure: A theme park with epic rides, including the Mining Race Coaster, a tree swing, and Rush Hour, a roller coaster ride. 
  • Outback Explorers: This world is described as “a whole world of adventure for smaller thrill-seekers, including pirate ships, big rig trucks, and giant berries.
  • Wildlife Trail: This section of Gumbaya comprises a trail where you can experience more than 50 species of animals, including koalas, dingos, and pythons. 

4. The Puffing Billy Railway

This steam train is one of the best-preserved steam railways in the world. It is a significant tourist attraction and operates, with the help of over 600 volunteers, every day of the year except Christmas Day.

Visitors flock to this attraction to experience a hundred-year-old tradition by riding in the original open-sided carriages. The historic steam train runs on its original 24km mountain track between Belgrave and Gembrook, experiencing the natural beauty of the Dandenong Ranges.

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